How Ballot Access Laws Affect the U.S. Party System


  • Richard Winger



Political scientists have long been aware of the relationship between American political parties and the law. That relationship began prior to the turn of the century when states introduced the government-printed Australian ballot, an innovation which required states to determine the standards for parties to gain access to that ballot. Those early laws set the stage for the later Progressive-inspired laws imposing on officially recognized parties a variety of regulations, most notably the requirement that the parties nominate their candidates through the process of primary elections. In recent years political scientists have supplemented this traditional focus on the historical impact of state laws on party development with a new focus: the impact on parties of decisions rendered by the judiciary, especially by the United States Supreme Court. It is this later development which inspired the Political Organizations and Parties Section of the American Political Science Association to sponsor a workshop on "Parties and the Law" at the 1995 Annual Meeting of the Association. Three of the papers presented at that workshop are included in this issue of The American Review of Politics.


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